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What college to study the brain and neuroscience?

Which course will give me greater knowledge about the brain? Psychology, Biology, Medicine, Chemistry? Which of these faculties is the best for studying the neurosciences, the sciences of the nervous system?

Hello friends!

A dear reader of our website, Matheus, asked us the following question: “Do you think which course will give me greater knowledge about the brain? Psychology or Biology?” In other words, what course or college will allow you to study what we currently call neuroscience?

Well, this is an excellent question and it urges us to first define what neuroscience is.

In our Free Neuroscience Course (plural), we are studying several basic aspects of this new area of ​​study. In summary, we can say that neurosciences study the central nervous system (which includes the brain) and the peripheral nervous system. However, given the complexity of the brain, we can carry out this study at micro or macroscopic levels.

For example, we can study the relationship of a brain injury to a person’s observable behavior. If the patient has had an injury to Brocca’s famous region, she may have difficulty speaking and understanding language. In this type of study, although we are also studying the brain, we are studying from a macroscopic perspective, through behavior, what the person thinks, says and does.

On the opposite side, we can study the same lesion at the microscopic level, ranging from the physical-chemical structures (electrical and chemical) to the cellular structure (biology) and what is visible to the naked eye, such as the cerebral furrows and fissures or the spinal cord. spinal cord (medicine).

This introduction gives an overview of which faculties we can study to specialize later in neurosciences.

Undergraduate and Graduate Studies in Neuroscience

Here in Brazil we have a graduate school in neuroscience, UFABC. Click here – Graduation in Neuroscience. However, as this is – so far – the only one, many will have to take another route, that is, the route that must be taken is to choose, first, a degree that is related to one of the major areas of study of neurosciences, in order to So specialize.

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Basically, we have the following graduations that are closely related:

– Chemistry

– Biology

– Medicine

– Psychology

Although, in a sense, the boundary division of how far a faculty and an academic discipline begins and how far it goes is arbitrary (the boundaries are more fluid than they seem at first), we can see that the degree will influence the ease or difficulty specializing in a branch of neuroscience.

For example, I, who have a degree in psychology, studied psychology in depth. During college, I took subjects related to the biology and physiology of the brain and nervous system (anatomy, neuroanatomy, physiology) but they were just a few subjects.

So, today I can understand the dynamics of a medicine – of a chemical – in the treatment of a mental illness or to know how electroconvulsive therapy works. However, I am far from being an expert in these areas. In double-blind studies, very common in psychiatry (specialization in medicine), there is often the use of genetic markers to look for the causes of a symptom, that is, if a symptom is genetic or environmental.

And, in these genetic studies, again, I can understand but I am far from knowing in detail and in depth because this was not the focus of my faculty, psychology. As psychologists, we study the various theories about the psyche (in short, the theories that deal with thoughts, feelings, and behavior) on a macroscopic level.

We also study the physical basis of what allows behavior to happen, but since it is not a specific faculty, we only have introductory material.

The same goes for someone who goes to chemistry (or pharmacy) college and studies brain anatomy and takes a psychology course. If this discipline is well taught (which is rare), the student will have a little contact with aspects of psychology, but he will not know in depth about our area either.

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In an ideal universe, it would be best to have the opportunity to do all the faculties (psychology, chemistry, biology, medicine) in order to have a general understanding of the neurosciences. But as this would take more than 20 years, the most common thing is for us to find researchers trained in an undergraduate degree with subsequent specializations in neurosciences.

And since, of course, a master’s or doctoral specialization is specific, the researcher will have to focus on a theme.

Thus, a psychologist can study the biochemical effect of a drug in the specialization. A chemist can study the consequences of brain damage in the temporal lobe, and a doctor can study the brain circuits involved in a person of genius in an area of ​​knowledge.

Finally, this interdisciplinarity is the very definition of neurosciences. If we think about the definition, again, of what neuroscience is. We will see that it is multiple:

1) Molecular neuroscience: deals with the function of molecules;

2) Cell neuroscience: studies the constitution and function of cells in the nervous system;

3) Systemic neuroscience: describes and analyzes the regions of the nervous system and is linked to neuroanatomy. In other words, he divides the nervous system into parts and names these parts and seeks to understand their functions;

4) Behavioral neuroscience: directly linked to psychology, especially behavioral psychology. It relates the study of the organism with the environment, focusing its study on internal behaviors such as thoughts, emotions and visible behaviors such as speech, gestures and other actions in general.

5) Cognitive neuroscience: focuses its study on even more complex behaviors such as memory, learning, in short, the cognitive capacity of a given person at a given time.

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So the big question is to think, from the outset, which of these 5 areas you would most like to study. For graduation will provide the strongest foundation for further study.


There is no right or wrong answer to the question of which is the best college to study neurosciences, because neuroscience is actually neural sciences – neurosciences… that is, several academic disciplines focus on the topic.

This type of doubt is also quite common in the human sciences in general. For example, what to study to study the French Revolution? Of course history is perhaps the first college nominated. However, we can also study what the French Revolution was from philosophy (what the thinkers of the time thought or said) or politics (political science) or literature, and so on…

Therefore, one way to choose is to first choose a degree of preference. For it is quite different to study chemistry and to study medicine. Study pharmacy or study psychology. Study biology or psychoanalysis. As a graduation lasts from 4 to 6 years, it is a time that we will have to dedicate ourselves. And since all of them, in principle, will allow us to study neurosciences later, we can start by choosing the degree.

If you are still in doubt, see our text – Technique for Deciding

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